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Keeping up with the drones

Most people will have noticed that remote controlled Drones are becoming more prevalent in the air. For most people they are little more than a nuisance or a noisy irritant but there are some positive uses and nascent regulations have taken force.

At this stage, there are three main uses for drones:

  1. Commercial – such as in  agriculture, security and (of course) pizza delivery;
  2. Community – search and rescue; and 
  3. Recreation – flying for the fun it, making videos etc. 

Regulations around drones thus far have a  focus on safety for the aviation industry and are controlled by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (“CASA”).

Presently the basic rules for flying drones are designed to prevent drones from being a “hazard to another aircraft, person or property”.  These rules are:

  • You must not fly your drone higher than 120 metres (400ft) above the ground;
  • You must keep your drone at least 30 metres away from other people;
  • You must only fly during the day and keep your drone within visual line-of-sight; 
  • You must not fly your RPA over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway(without prior approval);
  • You must only fly one RPA at a time;
  • You must not fly over or above people. This could include beaches, parks, events, or sport ovals where there is a game in progress;
  • If your drone weighs more than 100g, you must keep at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes. Flying within 5.5km of a non-controlled aerodrome or helicopter landing site (HLS) is possible, but only if no manned aircraft are operating to or from the aerodrome; and 
  • Respect personal privacy – don’t record or photograph people without their consent. 

Detailed information about airspace can be found in the Designated Airspace Handbook

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